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Two days away: COVID-19 testing ahead of Thanksgiving

Posted at 4:56 PM, Nov 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-24 20:03:08-05

With just two days until Thanksgiving, some people are scrambling to get tested for COVID-19.

This comes as health experts are pushing for people to stay at home and celebrate differently this year.

"Thanksgiving shouldn't be a rush to get tested," said Nick Clay, County of Santa Barbara Emergency Medical Services Agency Director. "We need to look at why we're getting tested and why is there this rush."

Clay, who is the lead of testing, says Santa Barbara County Public Health's Santa Maria site is booked through Thanksgiving with 75 tests per day. Three other sites in Santa Maria, Buellton, and Goleta are filled up too with 495 total tested administered daily.

"Certainly, all of our sites are maximum booked at the highest utilization we've seen in quite some time," Clay said.

At free testing sites across San Luis Obispo County, there's minimal availability.

"Those appointments are booking up quickly but we are seeing some cancellations so folks can go to and look for those appointments," said Tara Kennon, County of San Luis Obispo COVID-19 Public Information Officer.

The sites are seeing an average turnaround time of about two days to get results.

Mike Calloway of Paso Robles says he needed a COVID test 72 hours before his Thanksgiving trip to Hawaii. Since he's traveling, the options of where to get tested, dwindled.

"There was only one testing area in San Luis County and that was in Nipomo," Calloway said.

He ended up getting the test done in San Francisco before taking off.

The results were supposed to be a 12-hour turnaround but it ended up being 36.

"So it was really kind of pushing the limits and the other one that I did as a backup, we still haven't gotten," Calloway explained.

Calloway did make it to the island.

Meantime, urgent care locations or your physician can give you a test if you're sick.

But for travel, at-home testing is another option.

Rite Aid also just announced that no-charge testing will expand to those 13 years and older, regardless if the individual has symptoms or not. Keep in mind, it's by appointment only.

If you do decide to get together with others, public health strongly urges that it's less than two hours, outside with masks being worn, and with no more than three households.